In the summer of 2000, Pat, Jeff, Brett, Brandon, Gaile, Josh and I worked out of the living room of my apartment. We dreamed of mixing role-playing and strategy, of delivering a constant stream of new content into an online world, and of doing it with a friendlier business model than we’d seen before. That first summer we didn’t have much but we had a great team, and built the beginnings of what became Guild Wars and ArenaNet.
We couldn’t have known then the extent of the journey we were embarking on or all the wonderful and talented people who would join us along the way. For the past two decades we’ve gotten to work with brilliant developers and advisors, we’ve enjoyed an amazing relationship with the Guild Wars community, and were able to pursue the games of our dreams.
I’ve appreciated every moment of it. But the time has come for me to take a step back. Next week I’ll join some of my friends in forming a new studio. We’ll go back to the beginning and make small games again.
I’ll always love ArenaNet and Guild Wars. Now I’ll get to experience Living World releases as a player rather than as a developer.
Two years ago, when I transitioned away from the Guild Wars 2 game director role to focus on new product development, I asked Mike Zadorojny to take on that role. Now as he takes on a larger leadership role, I am confident that ArenaNet and Guild Wars 2 are in good hands. Z is a true champion of the Guild Wars franchise and of this studio’s values; he is the best person to continue carrying the torch at the company.
I want to thank the Guild Wars community for supporting us all these years. Some of my happiest times have been hanging out with you at launch days, anniversary parties, championship matches, trade shows and other gatherings. It’s great to see so many of the same faces year after year. My goal in making games is always to entertain people, so nothing makes me happier than to think we made a game that could entertain people for years.
A moment I’ll always remember is standing in front of you at PAX 2015 to announce that we’d make the base game free-to-play. It was the right thing to do for the game, but how would existing players react? You’re giving away what I paid for? Will the game be overrun by noobs? But that wasn’t your reaction at all. You formed welcoming committees to meet players as they came out of the tutorial zones and take them under your wings. It’s a lasting memory of how supportive you’ve always been toward this studio.
I want to thank TJ Kim and NCSOFT for standing behind ArenaNet and giving us the space to try new things. We first met NCSOFT in 2002, at a time when many companies didn’t “get” online-only games, but NCSOFT was so in tune with what we were trying to accomplish that we couldn’t even finish our pitch before they started making the pitch for us. TJ always loved Guild Wars, and played the game as much as many of you. When we talked, we’d talk games. I’ve worked for companies that were all about quarterly earnings, and I’ve always appreciated that NCSOFT is about making the best games.
And I want to thank the team at ArenaNet. It’s been an honor to work beside you all these years. You’re a team of artisans, sweating the details, putting your personal touches on everything this studio ships, even through seven retail releases and 80 episodes. You make games because you love the games. And you’re crazy, too, in all the right ways, daring yourselves to do things like “E3 For Everyone” for Guild Wars 1 or launching new content every two weeks through the first year of Guild Wars 2. We’ve had amazing adventures together. It’s been the journey of a lifetime, and I’ll always carry your passion with me.
A Message From Mike Zadorojny, Game Director of Guild Wars 2
To the Guild Wars community,
I’ve been working at ArenaNet since January 2006. I started in this company as a contract QA tester, and I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work with Mike O’Brien on developing both of the worlds of Tyria since the Factions product release for the original Guild Wars. We’ve always strived to make positive player interaction one of the core tenets of our games, and it has been a true joy to see the Guild Wars community come together in the virtual worlds we’ve helped to create. Knowing so many people found joy in what we do has been an incredibly rewarding and enjoyable experience. Mike led the studio for so many years, and so much of the amazing culture in this building stems from his leadership along with the other founders during the early days of ArenaNet, which strived to be a creative space where art came to life and the studio innovated and created games that were detailed, wondrous spaces for everyone to enjoy.
I took over the role of Game Director on Guild Wars 2 right after we launched Path of Fire. Assuming that role made me appreciate how passionate and amazing this community is, reminding me each day how important our work is. Since then we’ve aimed at making huge strides to the quality and cadence of content we’ve been adding to the game every year. I love the fans, I love this team and we’re all very excited for you to play the upcoming chapters of The Icebrood Saga. We’ve got some really fun content on the way.
I want to personally wish Mike the very best in whatever is next for him. Though he is leaving the studio, his presence and legacy will always be a part of the team, and I am going to make sure I do everything I can to keep the torch he passed me burning brightly into the future, both for the Guild Wars franchise and ArenaNet itself. I am looking forward to continuing this journey with all of you.